Mike Babick of Prairie Village might be able to move his extensive holiday light display to another city in the area. It’s possible, he says. But as the days pass, it’s beginning to look like it will take a Christmas miracle.
It takes almost a month to string up the lights and hundreds of moving parts for all the elves, trains and candy canes that make up the display. Babick usually starts putting it up Nov. 1, then lights it on Thanksgiving.
But the likelihood is that the familiar house at 7611 Falmouth St. will be dark this year. Babick is looking at alternative places for the display, but there may not be enough time, he said.
The annual display has drawn sightseers to Babick’s home for 47 years. But it has not been popular with all of his neighbors. Some complained about traffic and parking problems and other disruptions from the bus and carloads that pulled up each time the holidays rolled around. Babick has countered that he and his family police the neighborhood for litter and any trouble caused by the crowds.
Still, the city passed a new ordinance calling for people who stage such “events” to get permits and pay the costs of crowd control. Babick said that would make his display prohibitively expensive.
“I wish I could have it here at the house,” he said. “But it just doesn’t belong in Prairie Village any more.”
In the days since the ordinance made news, Babick has been offered buildings and vacant homes from people in Overland Park, Mission, Fairway and Leawood, he said. His cause even rated a mention on conservative talker Glenn Beck’s web site, The Blaze, and Babick heard from some out-of-staters who offered their space.
The problem is time. The display is the product of years of building and collecting materials and it fits snugly over just about every space of Babick’s house. It covers the rooftop and fills the garage. Even the interior is decorated and gawkers are welcomed to come right up to the windows and doorway, which Babick keeps open.
The idea of getting a display ready for a new location in just a month’s time is overwhelming, but Babick isn’t ruling it out. “Time will tell, is the only thing I can say,” he said.
In the meantime, Babick said he is trying on the idea that there will be no holiday crowds at his house this year. The prospect hit him recently when he looked out his front door and saw only darkness. “It’s going to be pretty lonesome.”
“I’ve done this 47 years. My question is, what’s wrong with a 48th year?”